Warm Quinoa Salad with Goat's Cheese PERU

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1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF.

2. Cook the quinoa according to package instructions and set aside.

3. Toss the vegetables, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and herbs together in an oven-proof dish.

4. Roast the vegetables in the oven for approx. 30-40 minutes, turning them over occasionally.

5. Mix the vegetables with the quinoa in a serving dish.

6. Add the goat's cheese and walnuts, then serve.

Warm quinoa salad also makes a great vegan dish without the goat's cheese.

Quinoa was known as the 'gold of the Incas', as it was believed that it increased the stamina of their warriors. The 'supergrain' is still regularly used in cooking in Peru, Chile and Bolovia and has recently become a popular ingredient in other parts of the world. It is among the least allergenic of the 'grains' (it actually comes from the same family as beets, spinach and chard) and has high anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. The grain contains a small amount of Omega-3 fatty acids, a higher content of mono-saturated fat than common cereal grains and is one of the most protein-rich foods in the world.

Peppers are low in calories and loaded with good nutrition. All varieties are excellent sources of vitamins A and C, potassium, folic acid and fibre. Red peppers contain more than 200% of the recommended daily vitamin C intake and are packed with antioxidants. Sweet red peppers burn more calories than red bell peppers. Yellow peppers each contain around 1.65 milligrams of niacin, which keeps skin healthy, and green peppers contain double the vitamin C content of oranges.

Onions have a unique combination of flavonoids (nutrients known for their anti-oxident and health benefits) and sulfur-containing nutrients, which can help increase bone density. They have also been shown to reduce the risk of several forms of cancer, have anti-inflammatory properties and provide cardiovascular benefits.

Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, biotin, molybdenum, vitamin K, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin E, manganese and dietary fibre. They are known for their antioxidant content and have been linked to heart health. They also support good bone health and have many anti-cancer benefits. Diets that include tomatoes have been linked with reduced risk of some neurological diseases, including Alzheimers.

Garlic was often prescribed by Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, to treat a number of medical conditions. It has very few calories, is very nutritious and can combat sickness such as the common cold. Garlic can also reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol, lower the risk of heart disease and improve bone health. It also contains antioxidants, which may prevent Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Walnuts contain a number of neuroprotective compounds including vitamin E, folate, melatonin and omega-3 fats. They contain cancer-fighting properties, which may help to reduce both prostate cancer and breast cancer. These nuts also contain rare and powerful antioxidants that are found in only a few commonly eaten foods and that can help prevent chemically-induced liver damage. They can aid weight control, improve reproductive health in men and improve metabolic parameters in people with type-2 diabetes.

Goat's cheese is lower in calories, cholesterol and fat than cow's cheese and is also easier on the human digestive system. It is also higher in vitamins K and D, while still providing an adequate amount of protein for an adult's dietary needs. This cheese contains good levels of probiotics (the 'good' bacteria that aid gastrointestinal healthy) and is better for people who are lactose-intolerant, as its fat particles are much smaller than those of cow's cheese.

Rosemary was traditionally used to help alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, boost the immune and circulatory system and promote hair growth. It is a rich source of anti-oxident and anti-inflammatory compounds, which are believed to boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. Scientists have found that rosemary provides neurological protection and studies have shown that blood levels of a rosemary oil component correlate with improved cognitive performance. Rosemary also contains iron, fibre, copper, calcium, magnesium and an abundance of B vitamins.

Thyme is commonly used to treat bronchitus, whooping cough, sore throat, colic, arthritis, diarrhoea, stomach pains, bedwetting, flatulence, parasitic worm infections and skin disorders. It is one of the most popular culinary herbs and has been shown to produce antihypertensive activity, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Its essential oil also prevents food poisoning by not only preventing food contamination but by also decontaminating previously contaminated foods.

Olive oil is known for its numerous health benefits. It is rich in mono-saturated fats and helps to lower the risk of hearth disease. It contains the phytonutrient oleocanthal, which reduces inflamation and can reduce the risk of breast cancer and its reoccurrence.

Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few foods that contain contain all nine essential amino acids.
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